I wake up in the morning with a soft groan. After spending a few nights sleeping in a chair, the bed feels like heaven. In fact, I don’t want to wake up, but then again, I never do. Mornings aren’t my thing. When I finally get my eyes open, I sit up, running a hand through my bed, trying and failing to subdue my wild bedhead. Then I hear a soft giggle, and my heart leaps into my chest at the unfamiliar sound. My eyes snap up, and I find Kiela sitting on my kitchen counter, watching me with an amused shining in her eyes. A bag of dark chocolate chips in her small hands as she happily munches on hand fulls.
“You seem rather happy this morning, little Raven,” I grumble through a yawn, glaring at her through blurry eyes.
She shrugs unfazed by my mood this morning, continuing to eat the chocolate like she’s claimed then as her own. I push off the bed, my limbs still slightly stiff as I shuffle over next Kiela, stealing back a hand full of my chocolate.
“Hey!” she screeches like a little kid, reaching out in a futile attempt to get my handful back.
I stuff it into my mouth before Kiela can stop me, half choking-half growling. “Mine!” around the full mouth. She pouts cutely like a little child, her flushed pink lip pushing out. I lean over and poke her button nose, causing her to sneeze. Kiela shakes her head and swats my hand sharply away from her face. Her lips pull up into a small snarl like a puppy first learning how to growl. Honestly, it was more cute than it was threatening.
Kiela turns her face away from me as I chuckle. Irritation in her voice, “you’re mean.”
The smile fades from my lip, “If I was mean, you would be outside right now facing Scarface,” she shivers in fear when I say the nickname I gave him, “not warm and inside wearing my jacket.”
“I didn’t mean that literally stupid.” She mumbles.
I realize my mistake then and wince. Living things are more complicated than the dead are, I forgot that. I try to cover from my mistake, putting on a smile as I try to joke. “You seem to constantly think I’m a ‘meanie’ though.” she doesn’t answer, doesn’t even look at me. I, of course, feel immediately guilty for making her feel bad, as she continues to ignore me and finishes the chocolate. I try to make her feel better and change the topic. “You should really eat some real food.”
She shrugs, a smile playing on her lips. “I’ll be fine. I can run on chocolate.”
I raise an eyebrow at her, almost believing her a second before I realize it was a joke. Kiela giggles at my confusion, her tiny form sliding off the wood and stone counter. I shake my head at her attics. My eyes drink her in, my jacket completely swallowing her whole, the sleeves coming over her hands by a two ot maybe three inches. The bottom of the coat almost to her knees, stopping just above the juncture.
For that moment, I found it hard to believe that anyone would hurt her. She was so helpless and broken behind those eyes. Even if she tried so hard to hide it, I could still see it, and my heart went out to her. My father would have said I had a bleeding heart, and I guess I could see why now. Speaking of blood, I need to know what I was going to be up against; that way, I can put a stop to any more blood being shed.
With an internal shrug of defeat, I decided to bite the bullet, “So, is there anything I should know about that guy from last night before I square up with him?”
Kiela’s fiddles with her nails, not looking at me and avoiding the question like I tried to hit her with a bat. “So, what are we doing today?”
I quickly weigh the pros and cons of pushing the subject. As much as I wanted to know what I was up against, but at the same time, I don’t know if it’s worth getting Kilea freaked out and stressed like she was yesterday. Scarface didn’t look like much, in fact, I think I could take him if I had to. It grates on my nerves slightly to just let it go, but I let her change the subject.
“Whatever you want to do,” I answer shortly, trying to sound uninterested.
She seems to look around the single-room building. Then she looks at me, and a wicked smile spreads across her beautiful face. Then slowly, her hand drifts behind her towards the water faucet.
I eyed her cautiously, taking an apprehensive half step back. “What are you doing?”
She giggles, flipping on the water and putting her thumb over the opening, so the water sprayed in a fan towards me. I throw my arms over my head, blocking most of it, so it hits my chest. She stops hosing me down when her laughter becomes too much and doubles over clutching her stomach. I growl at her playfully, shaking myself off like an overgrown dog.
Kiela just reaches over to the still running water and flicks a few drops in my direction. I lung at her tiny figure mischievously, laughing as she jumps out of my way.
“Come here, little raven,” I growl playfully.
“Nope!” She chirps happily.
I continue to try and grab her, the smile pulling at my lips, making my growling probably seem very unthreatening. I keep letting her dodge out of my way, as she giggles. It was like music as it filled the room. Like crystal on glass, or a bird’s song on a spring wind.
I straighten from my crouch, studying her. She looks genuinely happy messing around with me, and the idea that I could make her happy sends my heart through the roof. She has my leather jacket on, her grey shirt peeking out from underneath. Her ripped deep blue jeans show off bits of the peach-colored flesh on her legs, and the edges are frayed and almost a white color. She spins a finger around a few strands of her short dark brown, almost black messy hair like she’s waiting for me to make a move impatiently. I smirk at her eagerness to continue our little game, slowly starting to circle Kiela like a wolf looking for an opening.
Kiela’s head turns to keep her eyes on me, “what are you doing?”
Then I saw it, she tensed her body to the left. Kiela always dodged opposite of where her body looks like it would go. I rushed right, and she ran right into me. I drag one of my hands carefully down her one functioning wing. The pitch-black feathers felt like silk beneath my fingertips. Kiela jumps back in surprise, her wings unfolding fast from under the jacket to push me away. I could feel the power the appendages held as the good one hits me square in my face, knocking me back a couple of feet.
“What the hell?!” Kiela screeches, her face turning an amusing red color as she blushes hard.
Chuckling, I shove my hands in the pockets of my jeans. Shrugging in what I hoped looked close to the ‘cool’ manner that I once saw in a popular magazine. “gotcha little Raven.”
Kiela brushes off her wings of my touch and glares at me. She mumbles a string of curses under her breath that I couldn’t make out before folding them tightly back up under the jacket to where it hugs her curves just right. I couldn’t help my eyes as they linger on her form in places they probably shouldn’t be. When my eyes finally made their way back to Kiela’s face, her blush had deepened.
I wink at her, “You’re the one that wanted to play, my lady.”
She glares at me, “you are right, I did want to play.” Turning around towards the counter. Her hands find one of the clay cups I had resting on a drying cloth. She starts to fill the container with water, then slowly turns towards me. There’s a mischievous gleam in her eyes that spelled out the word trouble.
I can feel my eyes go wide, “oh no, you don’t!” I turn tail run for it. My body slams into the heavy wooden door and flies open. I don’t bother to close it behind me because I hear her light feet follow after me.
“Hey!” She giggles.
“You’ve already taken most of my shirt. Don’t ruin the rest of my clothes!” I turn to run around my cabin.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” She denies, hot on my heels.
Suddenly I dig my shoes into the earth, a smirk plastered on my face as I spin to look at her. “unless you’re hoping that I take the rest of my clothes off?”
She skeeds to a stop as well, her eyes hard with a glare. “You know what? I’m just gonna go back inside.” She turns and walks away.
I chuckle and follow Kiela inside, “good, it’s freezing out here.”
“Your fault for giving away your jacket...” Kiela mumbles, tossing the cup full of water over her shoulder.
“Hey!” I dodge out of the path of the water. “I was trying to be nice... you were the one that was freezing to death...”
Keila snickers and looks over her thin shoulders at me. “You do realize that I haven’t been freezing since then, right?”
“So, are you going to give it back?” I question, confused.
“Nope!” She pops and runs inside. I’m starting to realize she loves that word just a little too much. Then it was her turn to run and ducks back into the house.
I sigh and start to follow her into the house. My eyes scan over the trees that line my little clearing. I notice the shadow of a person duck behind the trees trying to get out of my line of sight. However it’s too late, I already saw there was someone there.
“Rhyne? Are you coming back inside?” Kiela calls from further inside the cabin.
I move to cover the doorway with my body. “Go back inside. Now!” I order not taking my eyes off the movement I saw, I feel my eyes start to turn gold.
I hear Kiela, jump in surprise behind me, her breathing becomes shaky and scared. At least she does what I told her this time.
A man steps out of the treeline in a dark cloak. The hood pulled low over their face. Under the edges of the cloth, I can see he has on ripped black jeans and a tight-fitting dark blue shirt. His voice is deep and relaxed as he calls out. “Kiela.”
“My name’s Rhyne. Not Kiela, but I can see how you’d get it mixed up.” I snap in a sarcastic tone.
“Kiela, I know you’re in there.” He ignores me. “I saw you. I know he’s looking for you, Kiela.”
I glance over my shoulder at Kiela, she seems to be thinking. Her thin eyebrow pulls together over confused brown eyes. She doesn’t seem to recognize the voice, with a little bit of optimism, I take her lack of response as a good sign.
“So you’re not with Scarface?” I ask, looking back towards the hooded man.
The man shakes his head and slowly pulls the hood off, keeping his head down his shaggy long, light brown hair falling into his face. Kiela moves next to me, tears falling down her face, her voice shaky, “Sh-Shawn?”
I step out of her way as the man looks up with soft green eyes and a genuine smile, “It’s me K...” He’s cut off as Kiela runs to him and tackles him in a hug that he returns with equal enthusiasm.
I feel my heartbreak slightly watching them. I tried to stuff it down, I knew I couldn’t have Kiela. I had already decided to reject the chosen bond with her; I was going to have to let her go. Now was a good time as ever to cut the relationship. But dammit, that still didn’t stop the pain rising in my chest. A Suffocating ache that yanked on my heart strains. It left like I was losing my first chosen all over, and I don’t know if I could go through that again.
I curse at myself for getting attached to her in the first place. I knew I couldn’t have her, and she seemed so happy in this Shawn guy’s arms. Kiela was never that happy around me, she always seemed so uptight and stressed. still, I couldn’t bring myself to look away from the painful scene as it played out before
Suddenly the little raven does something none of us menfolk saw coming. Kiela pulled away with tears in her eyes as she punched the man full in the shoulder. “That’s for leaving me!” She kicks him in the shins. “That’s for making me think you were dead!” When Shawn doubles over in pain, she reaches up and tugs his hair hard. “and that’s for scaring me!” She screams. Overall making me very happy not to be him, my envy for the moment completely evaporated.
Shawn, however, seems to be able to handle all the pain pretty well. The smile never faded from his face. “Damn woman, no need to pull my hair out.”
Then the moment passed, and I could feel my heart try and overpower my brain. I felt a need deep in my soul to separate the two and take Kiela into my arms just like Shawn had done, to replace his touch with my own. But I swallow the irrational urge and turn my back to them, not wanting to intrude on the happy couple’s moment. Honestly, though, I just couldn’t take the heartbreak any longer then I had to. However, that guy just wouldn’t let me get away.
“Hey, Rhyne, right?”
“yeah, and you’re Shawn?” I glance back over at them.
Shawn nods, his arms around Kiela’s shoulders. “yeah. Thank you for taking care of Kiela.”
Kiela crosses her arms, the bottom lip picking out again as she pouts. “He didn’t take care of me. I can take care of myself.”
I smile at Shawn, but it feels shaky on my own lips, I could only wonder how fake it most looks to Kiela and her... boyfriend? Lover? it stung to know that both were titles that I would never hold for anyone ever again. “no problem... I guess you’ll be taking over from now on?” I ask, not even looking at them. I simply couldn’t tear my eyes up from the floor.
“Yes, I will-“comes Shawn’s smooth voice only to be Interrupted by Keila’s strong will and stubborn voice. “no. I’m staying with you.”
“Raven,” I say softly, almost painfully. It wasn’t my place to watch over her, she needed to go. “I think your friend there was about to say he was.”
I hear footsteps and watch her walk past me into the cabin. On her way, she smirks at me. “you won’t be able to get rid of me that easily.”
I hear Shawn walk up and stop at my shoulder. “are you guys together or something?”
My heart beats loudly in my ear. There was only one reason Shawn would ask that question, and that’s if they weren’t in a romantic relationship. I held back a teaspoon size drop of hope I knew I shouldn’t even have as I state as casually as possible. “No, I thought you guys were together.”
I hear Kiela laugh from inside my house. Then Shawn echoes her laughter, “No, no, you got the wrong idea. We’re just friends.”
I let out a sigh of relief that I instantly hate myself for. I knew I was setting myself up for a worse fall when I have to cut the connection between us. However, it seems my common sense and self-preservation haven’t won out yet, so why start listening to them now. I want to draw this out for as long as possible.
“Well, Shawn, want to come inside? It’s freezing out here.” I offer, smiling at the man.
Shawn nods thankfully, “Yeah, please.” He ducks into the house.
I hang back just a little longer to glance around the forest. Check for any other shadowy forms that want to make themselves known from my once quiet tree line. Satisfied that I don’t see anything, I follow everyone else into the wooden house and close the door behind me, making damn sure to lock it.
Kiela had plopped herself back onto the bed. Laying on her back and closing her eyes while she hums a happy little tune. The smile on her face is gentle but honest. Shawn stands in the middle of the room, watching her with an amused smile that shone in his eyes. It wasn’t hard to see them as a couple, and I’m not ashamed to say it caught my curiosity that they weren’t.
“what’s your story?” I ask Shawn abruptly.
He blinks at me for a second then looks back at Kiela. “what do you mean?”
I cut to the chase, getting the information and answer that I was genuinely desperate for. “How did you two meet?”
I watch as a ghost of a memory plays in his eyes. “well, we were childhood friends. Cheesy kid stuff, I guess...she was an orphan, and my mom was a single abusive alcoholic parent...one day we saw each other on a playground, and we decided to play together. we’ve been best friends ever since.” He shrugs casually like that’s the end story, but things didn’t line up just yet.
I raise an eyebrow at him. “that’s not the full story, though. Kiela thought you were dead if I remember five minutes ago correctly.”
Shawn fidgets with the hem of his cloak, glancing at the ground like he’s trying to decide something. When he makes up his mind, his words come out carefully. “I don’t think she’d like me telling you that part...it’s her story too, you know...”
I sigh, accepting that answer because there wasn’t anything I could do to refute it. I did ask about their story, which means Kiela has a say in what I was told. With my history of trying to get anything out of her, she most likely never agreed to tell me.
I notice her humming has stopped, and look over at her. Kiela now lays on her side with her back facing Shawn and I. Her body shakes slightly, causing her hair to fall from her shoulder and reveal a nasty scar on the back of her neck. I feel Shawn tense beside when I guess he sees it too. He walks over carefully, placing his cloak over her sleeping form, covering the scar back up.
I stand stiffly where I am, feeling like an outsider in my own home. I had seen her shirtless, I knew she had scars that marred that body of hers, but they did not take away from her beauty in my eyes. If anything, the marks meant she was a survivor. However, I didn’t think they shared my opinion, so I kept it to myself, saying nothing.
Shawn walks back over and seems to notice what he and Kiela are doing to me. He scratches the back of his head awkwardly as an apologetic look molds itself to his features. “So-”
“Can you at least tell me how you found my house?” I interrupt. “Or is there just a neon sign above it saying ‘Kiela is here’?”
Shawn chuckles at my attempt of a joke, explaining. “no neon sign. I followed the guy you call Scarface, but then I lost him and came across your house while wandering around. I saw Kiela chasing you and throwing water at you.”
“Good to know there no sign because then I’d have to figure out how in the rings of hell did someone get electricity all the way out here.”
Shawn laughs looking me up and down, his eyes getting a good look at me for the first time. I smile and laugh with Shawn, letting him look his fill. I feel more relaxed around him now.
Then his eyes turned serious as he looked at me in mine. “You know if you break Kiela’s heart, I’ll have to kill you, right?”
I chuckle bitterly if only he knew everything wrong with what he said. “noted, but she’s not even interested in me.” I try to get away without telling him a relationship isn’t an option for me.
“I think she is.” Shawn continues to press.
I sigh and shake my head, of course, he couldn’t drop it. “How about this... I can’t date her. It’s just not an opinion.”
Shawn tilts his head curiously. “why not?”
“It’s my job, and the people i work for won’t really allow it,” I state, fully expecting that to be enough of an answer.
“so what? everyone deserves love.”
I feel a pang shot through my chest. “Most,” I shake my head slowly. “Not everyone.”
“No! Everyone does.” Shawn arguments.
“Not me! Not after the things I’ve done, the people I’ve hurt. Look, Shawn, if you want to keep her safe, you’d keep her away from me.”
“Something tells me she won’t let me do that.”
I sigh and nod in understanding. “I know what you mean.” Shawn chuckled lightheartedly.
“you guys do know I’m not asleep, right?” Comes Kiela voice.
I feel my stomach drop as both Shawn and my head snap towards the now sitting up Kiela. She had pulled Shawn’s cloak around her shoulders like she had with my jacket.
“gods above kill me now...” I mumble, unable to look her in the eyes.
Shawn elbows me in the ribs. “aw don’t say that. One of them might actually listen.”
I watch as Kiela’s neck turns toward Shawn as she glares at Shawn, who puts his hands up in surrender. Then I feel her eyes turn towards me; for some reason, I feel like I did something wrong. My shoulders cave in on themselves slightly. When my eyes finally make their way up to hers, I see heartache flash in them. Then she lays back down, curling into a tight ball and pulling the cloak over her head.
“Fucking hell... I did not miss her mood swings.”
I feel nervous to talk again in front of her. “...she does keep me on my toes...”
“Maybe we should go outside...?” Shawn offers.
I shake my head Negative, “she doesn’t like to be alone...”
“Your right,” he nods sharply. “forgot about that part...”
I smile slightly proud, “I didn’t forget. ”
Shawn raises an eyebrow, his words clipped and to the point. “This isn’t a contest, you know that right?”
I blink at him, confused, trying to figure out what Shawn meant by a contest. Slowly my eyes widened as I realized what he said and instantly became embarrassed. “no... I... I don’t mean... I’m sorry, don’t think that I...”
Shawn laughs lightly at my flusters and incoherent speech. “but if it was,” He draws out. “I would win.”
I glare at him, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “sure you would.”
Shawn meets my glare with one of his own. “you just met her. I’ve known her almost her entire life.”
“not her entire life.” I point out, “She thought you were dead.”
“thus why I said almost. ”
This wasn’t getting us anywhere. We were arguing in circles when we have other things we should probably be doing. With a sigh of defeat, I mumble, “I just meet you, I don’t want to fight.”
“This isn’t fighting,” he states but then leaves it alone.
I nod a quiet thanks and glances back at Raven. Kiela is still hiding under the clock hiding from the two of us. My eyes dart back to Shawn, his eyes never seem to have left me. Suddenly I feel slightly claustrophobic like the room just got three times too small. It might have been the s larger amount of living things I was suddenly with when I was used to being around none, or the amount of stress I was feeling under Shawn green stare. The need to get out of the house was suddenly overbearing.
“I think I’m going to walk the tree line.” I scratch the back of my head, trying to cover up the slight swell of panic that filled my lungs. “I’ll be back.”
“Alright,” Shawn hums, his eyes finally finding something else to stare at. “don’t get yourself killed.”
As I turn to leave to see Kiela peeks out from under the cloak, her hair ruffled up cutely from being under the cloth. I offer her a quick smile then heads back outside into the cold still jacket-less.that is until Kiela comes running out of the house and throws my jacket back onto my shoulders. Then she really surprises me by standing on her toes and lightly pressings her soft lips to my cheek before running back inside. Shawn chuckles from the doorway, apparently watching us. I can feel my face heat up, so I turn away from him as I slid into the arms in my jacket.